Last year, an estimated 618,000 were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect nationwide.
Studies show there are 60 million sexual abuse survivors in the United States. Given a population of 300 million, that’s one in five Americans who were sexually abused before reaching the age of 18.
The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s (BCM/D) sexual abuse task force team released a statement on April 1 regarding the recognization of National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month:
This April, BCM/D recognizes National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Both of these initiatives are more than just raising awareness about the reality of child maltreatment and sexual abuse. Recognizing these initiatives gives us the opportunity to raise our voices in support of survivors and collectively work to eliminate further victims. Women, children, and those affected by disabilities are the most vulnerable to abuse within the church. We urge all churches to join in this national effort by dedicating yourselves to the task of creating and improving prevention systems within our churches. Prevention remains our best defense. Abuse can have long-term psychological, emotional, and physical effects that have lasting consequences for victims. Church leaders and members want to believe their church and its ministries are safe. Sometimes we believe sexual abuse would never happen in our church. This illusion of safety is dangerous to both the church and those it serves. Abusers take advantage of our environment of grace, forgiveness, and second chances – where fewer safety measures are in place. Join the BCM/D in dedicating the month of April to examining your church’s sexual abuse prevention plan to ensure the safest environment for the most vulnerable
Earlier this week, three members of the BCM/D’s sexual abuse task force attended a national meeting at the Southern Baptist Convention in Tennessee to collaborate with other state conventions and hear about national initiatives. The BCM/D’s task force remains committed to walking alongside our local churches to assist them in setting up pathways to protect the vulnerable and care for the abused.
Commit to attending the Pathways event on April 30 at Cresthill Church to learn ways your church can safeguard the vulnerable and care for the abused.
Featured image: Adobe Images
Kris Buckman serves with the BCM/D as the children’s and youth ministry consultant, a communications team member, and a member of the BCM/D’s sexual abuse task force.